Monday, March 7, 2011

THIS Is Love (Part I)

She was only a few days from delivering her first child so the strange pain that was shooting through her body was surely something to do with the labor that would bring this amazing life into the world.   Or was it?  When a beautiful blonde checked into a hospital in a small Illinois town, nothing seemed amiss at first.  Yet within hours, she slipped into a coma and awoke days later to discover something wonderful and something terrible.

“You have a new baby boy!”  The doctor smiled to see the lady’s youthful face brighten when she heard this incredible news.  But when she attempted to swing her legs over the bed to sit up and hold her son, she couldn’t feel them at all.  The doctor’s face darkened with the next thing he had to tell her.

“You also have contracted polio and you're now paralyzed from the waist down.  You will never walk again.”

This is my great Aunt Ellie’s story.  

She went home from that hospital a few weeks later, holding a precious boy in her arms while she was pushed out in a wheelchair that would be her new “legs” for the rest of her life.  She had every right to park that wheelchair in a corner of her living room and drown in the sorrows of what could have and should have been.  No one would have faulted her for not fully embracing her new role as a mother.  She had every excuse to never smile again.  

But my Aunt Ellie had other ideas.  She had a boy that needed a joyful mom so she didn’t quit smiling.  In fact, she is still smiling today at 85 years old.  
My Aunt Ellie in her home, what a lady!

She smiles when she welcomes her two grown sons home.  She can barely contain her joy as she wheels over to open the oven and treat her grandkids to some freshly baked cookies while they chat her ear off.  Her smile turns wistful as she dust off a framed photograph of her husband who is waiting for her on the other side of eternity.  Aunt Ellie smiles when she pulls out a game of Scrabble to play with me when I visit.  She scoots close to me to ask how I am doing and she showers me with compliments that are so sweet I feel embarrassed.  Aunt Ellie truly delights in revealing the hidden treasure inside of others.  

Just last week I smiled when I opened my mailbox and pulled out a present postmarked from a tiny town in southern Illinois.  Aunt Ellie never stops: this time it was a beautiful hand-knitted gift for our newborn girl.  She can’t use her legs for anything but she does have two hands that are busy blessing anyone lucky enough to know this lovely lady.  

This is love.

Come with me now to another small town set in the mountains of Washington state.  Two excited teenagers anticipate a special date that is getting closer with each passing day: their wedding.  The young man doesn’t mind the backbreaking work at the logging plant because it means he is that much closer to having enough money to build his bride-to-be their little dream cabin by a creek in his beloved mountains.  What he didn’t count on is the day at work that will change the course of his life forever.  

He was warming by a fire with his coworkers when the fire began to grow.  He reached for a bucket of water to douse the flames but grabbed a gallon of gasoline instead...

To be continued tomorrow...

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